“It doesn’t get any better than right now. Enjoy the ride.”
That was the perfect synopsis of a fun-filled cowboy celebration and recognition Saturday night at Cottonwood Falls.
Ernie Rodina, congenial Purina feed salesman well known for his horse radio programs, equine print publication and generous contributions to Midwest horse activities, made the remark concluding the special party honoring the five Kansas teams placing high at the Working Ranch Cowboys Association World Championship.
Likely the brainchild of Rodina and certainly prodded by his energy, the festive cowboy affair drew more than 300 Western-oriented in attendance. Most cowboy members of the five working ranch teams, including the world champions from the Amarillo, Texas, competition, were there.
It was certainly an all-out cowboy event as the largely hat-crowned crowd was welcomed into celebration hall by co-sponsors Kim and Lana Reyer of Reyer’s Country
Store and appropriately presented with blue-ribbon-colored cowboy scarves.
Many soon had the colorful pieces tied around their necks furthering the cowboy attitude, while tapping boot toes to the beat and tunes of renowned Kansas cowboy singer Rusty Rierson and Larry the Keyboard Cowboy.
Aromatic whiffs of barbecued beef brisket prepared by Rodina earlier in the day filled the air. Other main sponsor Purina officials, including Randal Raub, former Kansas State University equine specialist now equine nutritionist in St. Louis, prepared supper under guidance of Susan Barnes from the famed Grand Central Hotel, also a sponsor.
Additional major supporters of the evening were the Kansas Livestock Association, Hunn Leather Company, Jim Bell & Son, Brummel Farm Service, Bluestem Farm & Ranch and Boulevard Brewery. Walking through the crowd with a live microphone, Rodina welcomed the diverse-aged gathering, and then called for silence; spoke a prayer of thanksgiving and announced chow was being served.
Several officials of the Working Ranch Cowboys Association, headquartered in Amarillo, had driven up during the day, were in attendance and assisted with serving.
Association manager Mandy Morton gave congratulatory welcoming remarks to the group. â€œWe are committed to preserving the heritage and lifestyle of the working ranch cowboy. Of all the great events around the country, this has to be the most impressive recognition program we’ve seen,â€ Morton commented.
Briefly, she spoke about workings of the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Crisis Fund pointing out that “œsadly there has been assistance needed by cowboys during the past year, but fortunately we were able to help them out which is our objective,” Morton evaluated.
Earl Kuhn, cowboy artist who’s a WRCA director from Medicine Lodge, congratulated the ranch cowboys emphasizing: “We must keep our Western heritage alive.”
More than a dozen members of the Saddle & Sirloin Club, a group of Kansas City area horse enthusiasts, were in attendance and expressed appreciation to Flint Hills ranchers for allowing them to ride their land.
“We are grateful for the experiences you’ve given to us,” a spokesperson recognized. “We have enjoyed attending the ranch rodeos, and we’ve found out after trying to do some of the events, you are definitely better than we are.”
Todd Domer, communications director of the 5,800-member strong Kansas Livestock Association headquartered in Topeka, assured the winners that the state was proud of the success of the ranch cowboys. “We may not be at all of the events, but we are working to preserve the cattle industry and the cowboy way of life,” Domer insisted.
Jerry Hedrick, announcer for Purina horse events and many other horse shows and rodeos throughout the country, an American Quarter Horse Association Humanitarian of the Year and Flint Hills cowboy in his own right at Strong City, took over the microphone as make-shift auctioneer for the WRCA Crisis Fund Raising Auction.
Dawn Dawson, co-host of Rodina’s Better Horses Radio Show, and her husband cowboy poet Geff Dawson, assisted Rodina at ringside collecting bids for several thousand dollars worth of donated Western items auctioned to benefit the crisis fund.
Among highlight items in the auction were prints of Kuhn’s latest paintings and leather work done personally by Hedrick.
Matt Hunn of Hunn Leather also donated leather products manufactured at his Augusta store, congratulated the ranch cowboys and expressed appreciation for many of them believing in and riding the saddles his firm builds.
A power point presentation recognized the teams’ action at the WRCA championship, and then individually the teams were called to the front for member recognition and awarding of Maynard trophy buckles.
A Chase County team from the Buck Creek and Lonesome Pine ranches placed 11th overall, with Grady Gibb, Bud Higgs, Troy Higgs, Randy Peterson, Sammy Jo Peterson and Adrian Vogel comprising the team.
Ninth place team was composed of competitors representing the KW Cattle Company and Diamond E Ranch of Fort Scott and Redfield. Riders are Chad Braden Travis Duncan, Andy Eck, Shanna Eck, Kolby Stock and Nathan Wells.
Fourth place overall team was the Arndt Ranch and Bailey Ranch group from Emporia and Tampa. Members are Michael Arndt, Ryan Arndt, Richell Bailey, Wes Bailey, Glen Collinge and Josh Lilly. They also won the stray gathering event.
The reserve world championship went to Beachner Brothers Livestock and Broken H Ranch of St. Paul and Bronson.. Team members include Bruce Beeman, Cliff Hall, Sage Hall, Calvin Kendall, Cody Kendall and Orban Stephens.
Scribner Ranch and El Dorado Livestock Auction at El Dorado joined efforts to be the 2010 world champions. The team is made up of dad John Scribner and brothers David, Doug and Daniel Scribner, as well as family friends Brett Cloud and Carl Donley. En route to the championship, the team won the wild cow milking event.
“Nobody could have been prouder of anything than John was of his boys and the team,” Rodina noted.
Cliff Hall rode his horse, Lika Doc Peppy, to be named the reserve champion in the Top Horse competition and received special awards from the American Quarter Horse Association. His dad, Wayne Hall of Uniontown, was in the crowd, and Rodina recalled years ago when the senior Hall would take his son along working cattle.
“I remember Wayne leading Cliff on a horse when they were checking cattle near Bronson. Now the next generation is carrying on the family tradition. The Western heritage is strong there,” Rodina credited.
“The Working Ranch Cowboys Association is the most grass roots organization I know,” Rodina pointed out. “These are real folks with family values.
“It’s not just winning. It’s about family. It’s about friends. It’s about the memories,” Rodina concluded.